By EDWARD B. CLARK
Washington - The senate is discussing immigration. The House has been discussing it for some time. It looked today as if a restrictive measure will receive the sanction of congress and the approval of the President. There is some opposition from both Democrats and Republicans in the two houses, but it probably will be overcome. Most of the objection to furhter restriction of immigration comes from men who represent districts containing many foreign-born constituents.
The present immigration law, which expires by limitation on June 30 of this year, is a really restrictive measure, but the proposal is to make the new one more so. It may be that not only will the percentage of admissions be cut, but that the basis will be made on an early year census instead of that of 1910, a change which will keep out large numbers of southern Europeans while admitting considerable numbers of northern Europeans.
It just happens that at hand at this moment there are some facts concerning Italy, and it is for this reason that this country is chosen to point up its side of the case. It has been said that the present law is restrictive. So it is, and this is shown by the simple statement that the present Italian quota is only 42,000 persons a year.
It is understood that there are 600,000 Italians already registered on the other side of the water as applicants for passports as immigrants to the United States. if either the house bill or the senate bill shall become law this year, the present Italian quota of 42,000 persons will be reduced by more than half, and the same general proportionate reduction will be made for other southern and eastern European countries.
The officials of the Federation of Labor and the American Legion recently joined in an appeal for further restriction of immigration. Senator Reed of Pennslyvania, who is urging the passage of a selective and a restrictive bill, is a veteran of the A.E.F. and a member of the American Legion, but his bill is too lenient to meet the organization's demands.
In 1890 the comparatively recently arrived immigrants from northern Europe outnumbered those from southern and eastern Europe very largely, while recently the southern and eastern Europeans were here considerably in excess of those who had come from western and northern Europe. It easily can be seen therefore why those senators and representatives who prefer the northern and western European immigrants to the southern and eastern, desire that a census of years ago, rather than a recent census shall be taken as a basis for fixing the quotas of immigrants to be admitted,
While the new law, if it follows the lines of suggested legislation, will keep many Italian out of this country who desire to come here, it can be said on the strength of statements made in congress that the Italian government is trying to keep up the character of its immigrants. It is said that some other European countries are taking exactly the opposite course, trying their level best to get rid of their undesirables and to keep at home their desireables. Knowledge of this in itself is one reason for the apparent strength of the desire of congress to put the bars up higher than they are today.
A chart has been shown in the senate which shows accurately the composition of the population of the United States in 1920. In explaining the chart Senator Reed said the following concerning the composition of our population:
"Ten per cent of it is of negro origin. Of the whole population of the United States according to the last census it is estimated that including negroes 74 per cent is of northwestern European origin. Excluding the negro the percentage would be about 78 per cent. Of the present population 13 per cent of the whole number, including negroes, came from southern and eastern Europe, that is, from Russia, Poland, the Balkan countries, Turkey in Europe, Italy and Spain.
"Thirteen per cent of our whole 105,000,000 had a national origin in southern and eastern Europe, and 3 per cent of the remainder have an origin that is either Asiatic or white African, or from some other source."
Before immigration legislation finally is passed there will be an immense discussion of it in both the house and senate. It is considered a delicate subject because apparently the official lives of a good many members of congress depend on the way they cast their votes on this matter.